The Dream of Su Yen

28 November 2018 by Roy Preece

The Dream of Su Yen

Su Yen is a dreamer in many ways. But her dreams are not just idle ‘daydreaming’. She has positive visions for the future: for herself, for her friends, for ancient buildings, for Taiwan. Of course, she also dreams when she is asleep, but unlike most of us she can remember and tell her dreams in great detail – and they have a strange way of coming true in her life .  .  .

“I once dreamt of a cathedral which was so beautiful. I saw a great dome, but I was not sure whether I was inside or outside the building. There were earth-coloured mural paintings and some words on the ceiling of the dome. A priest wearing a black gown stood by the altar and was looking up at somewhere towards the sky or ceiling. I followed the line of his sight, and to my surprise saw snowflakes flying elegantly down in beautiful sunshine coming through windows. I was so attracted to this magical scene, but was so confused in my dream whether it was an indoor or outdoor scene, or whether it combined both; you know what dreams are like”

She interrupted me before I finished the story. ‘How could you know it was St Paul’s because your dream was so abstract?’

‘I described my dream to a friend who then immediately answered me, “ST PAUL’S CATHEDRAL, in London”. So I went to St Paul’s to see if it’s really the one in my dream. And then I saw the paintings on the ceiling in the dome and all the priests were wearing black gowns there. I told my supervisor, “I think the God has chosen St Paul’s for me to do the research.”                                                                                                                                             (Dear Su Yen, page 215)

Now another sort of dream, a virtual creation, is taking place, thanks to modern technology and skilled artists. See St Pauls Cathedral virtually.  

Everyone knows St Paul’s Cathedral in London, built after the Great Fire of London in 1666. This neo-classical building replaced Old St Pauls, destroyed in the Great Fire, a medieval gothic building like many which still exist in England and western Europe.  

This Is not the first time Old Saint Pauls has been re-imagined.  In the 1840s the writer Harrison Ainsworth wrote a hard-hitting historical romance with the title Old Saint Paul’s: A Tale of the Plague and the Fire, which includes detailed ‘word pictures’ of the old building and a dramatic description of its destruction by fire, with rivers of molten lead running down from the roof and burying the two villains of the story.

A slightly later edition had many wonderful atmospheric engravings of the old cathedral, which you may find more evocative than the rather soulless computer reconstructions of today. Search for 'Old St Pauls' here